North Tama announces updated return to learn plans

Elementary to return to 100% capacity, high school to remain hybrid

North Tama Elementary - File Photo

The following is a letter sent to parents of students at the North Tama Community School District last week:

Dear Parent:

On Thursday, October 1, North Tama’s K-6 Elementary School will return to 100% capacity. Elementary students from both the Red Team and the White Team will begin attending school on a daily basis starting on that day.

Preschool classes will return to full capacity during the week of October 5. Preschool parents will receive an email with a specific schedule in the near future.

The 7-12 High School will continue to operate at 50% capacity with students attending in person on an every-other-day basis as has been done for the first four weeks of school. This will continue through at least Friday, October 23,

with a possible return to 100% capacity on Monday, October 26.

This decision is based on the decision-making metric adopted in consultation with Tama County Public Health as part of the district’s Return-to-Learn Plan. The plan states that in order for an attendance center to return to 100% capacity, two 14-day incubation periods must have passed without a student or staff member receiving a positive COVID-19 test result. At the elementary level, the metric has been met for a return to daily in-person learning. At the secondary level, the metric has not yet been met, and based on the timing of the positive cases at that level, the earliest possible date for a decision on a possible return to 100% capacity is Monday, October 19. Secondary parents can expect an announcement on or before Tuesday, October 20.

As we make the transition to 100% capacity at the elementary level, parents are reminded that schools simply cannot guarantee that physical distancing will be met in all settings throughout the entire school day, during school activities, or in transportation systems. With all elementary students attending school daily, physical distancing will be more of a challenge than it has been during our first four weeks of school. Our staff will do the best we can to ensure as much distancing as possible given the constraints of our enrollment numbers and the size of our classrooms. Face coverings (mask or face shield) will still be required for the foreseeable future. To help reduce mask fatigue, the staff will continue to provide mask breaks whenever possible, but at the elementary level these breaks may be less frequent due to the reduced ability to distance our students and staff.

For students at all levels, bus pick-up and drop-off times will change on October 1 when all elementary students are attending daily. Parents received bus route details prior to the start of the year, and the school will be emailing this bus information again in the near future. Many bus parents have been helping to mitigate risk by volunteering to pick up and/or drop off their children at school whenever possible, thereby reducing the number of students on buses. This is very much appreciated and will be an even more important mitigation measure when more students are attending school in person each day.

The Remote Learning program will remain an option for students at all grade levels for the remainder of the school year. Some families may wish to transition their child(ren) to the Remote Learning program when their child’s building returns to full capacity, while other families may wish to move their child back to in-person learning at some point during the year. While parents are encouraged to commit to an entire semester or an entire year in the program, please know that you may contact your child’s principal to discuss a possible change at any time during the year.We would like to share three more important notes related to the current situation:

1.)The Return-to-Learn Plan (which includes the 50% capacity hybrid model and 100% capacity model as well as the decision-making metric for selecting a model of instruction) will be on the agenda of the October meeting of the North Tama Board of Education. The board may consider possible changes to the plan at that time. This meeting will be held on Monday, October 12 at 7:00 p.m. in the North Tama Multipurpose Room. (Please note: The meeting is being held one week earlier than originally scheduled due to a conflict with 1st round regional volleyball on the originally-scheduled night of the meeting.) District patrons are invited to observe the meeting and/or participate in the public forum. Details on how to participate in the public forum will be included with the meeting agenda, which will be posted on the North TamaWebsite no later than Friday, October 9.

2.)The district is still seeking qualified substitute teachers, as well as substitute bus drivers, cooks,and others that may be available to step in to provide support in the event of staff illness or required isolation. If at any point the school is forced to implement a short-term closure due to the inability to fill key staff positions, the governor’s proclamations do not allow for school districts to transition to remote learning during this type of closure; therefore, those school days would just be canceled and made up at a later time. If you or someone you know would be qualified and interested in being added to our list of substitute teachers or staff, please contact the main office for an application.

3.)A recent governor’s proclamation does allow for a school to transition to short-term remote learning on days when school needs to be canceled due to weather-related safety issues.Therefore, for the remainder of this school year, any day that school would be canceled for weather-related reason (such as excessive snow or ice) will be a remote learning day for allstudents.Please monitor your child diligently for symptoms of COVID-19. If you notice symptoms, please keep them at home, away from others, and only leave home to seek medical attention/testing after consulting with your healthcare provider by telephone first.


North Tama Administration